Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bringing Down the House

This post was intended to mean as a review to a book, Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Meizrich. However i had written several words of contemplation to my youth long gone before really proceeding with the book.

Math is a magnificent subject. And i'd like to have a privilege of self-indulgence (i wrote this post, anyway), by saying that back in a High School, i was pretty good at Math. Well, actually, Math is the only subject that i really cared about back then. I was practically terrible at Biology and Chemistry, often relies to memorizing things rather than to understand things, I was especially good at English, doesn't cared much about Bahasa or any other social studies for that matter. Just so-so at Physics (in fact, i only cared - and subsequently, aced - when it comes to Mechanics). But, i was pretty good at Math. But of course, you know how it is in High School. There's a certain myth that if you're good at Math, then you're good at anything. Seeshh.. Anyway, that kind of myth had propelled my popularity back then. Ah, those days. And i was in a band, playing lead-guitar for a heavy-metal induced band, had a ruffling almost-shoulder-length hair, NEVER carries a bag (my home was a short-distance away from school, carries a bag is not an option. I prefer to carry one universal notebook which i used to write EVERYTHING down, and a pen stuck in my back pocket, i put all of my textbooks at the school's mosque), a terrible but good-runner left defender at soccer game, and an avid PlayStation RPG gamer, in a way, i was a nerd, but unlike those nerds as portrayed by our television. Gah! I detest them!. But, whenever i return to school's reunion, one thing that seemingly stuck in my friend's head about me. A straight-A student. A fuckin' smartest-kid in town (sadly, supported by known fact). I was flustered whenever i heard that comment, since it implies at least two-things that were expected of me. 1) I had a lucrative job, with a bright career ahead of me, and 2) I had a tall, sexy, blond woman who cared about nothing but my wealth as a wife. I was, of course, as of now, had neither.

Anyway, pardon me for jumping back in the lane of time, i just happened to question my direction of life quite often lately. I mean, i had passed my twenty-something birthday a couple of months ago, and i still don't really know what i want, or what i desire. And with the end of 2007 looming ahead of me, i grew anxious about the future even more.

However, there's also often a false misconceptions about what Math truly is among the full-of-spirit teenagers (at least in my time). Many of those i knew often asked trivial questions about how impractical for them to study limits, integrals, number theories, statistics, trigonometry, and so forth. They (i was among them, actually) wondered about how Math is going to help them in their career, in their life, and so forth. In fact, it boggles down to one thing. Practicality.

Bringing down the House - hey, we finally get into the real post - is a book, a non-fiction book about some MIT students who win millions at Blackjack by practicing a simple card-counting method. The book made a reference to Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman's character was a savant who could easily remember cards through six decks, thus improved his odds greatly during a card game.

The card-counting method depicted in this book, is more about a statistical method, improving the odds of a player to win, thus reducing the risk, and most importantly, it relies on a team play with various roles. Spotter who bet at minimums, counting the cards as they did so, and when the count is favorable they signaled another player who bet at maximum, a good actor, and a master at counting cards. The Spotters usually lose, but since they bet at minimum, their losses were much covered with the Big Player whom they signaled in when the play is favorable who bet at maximum. And then some. It was an enjoyable read, if you like to know how to make money quickly by gambling, and had a particular interest in general Math, this book is worth the time reading. But, of course, it's easy to see as well, that the author of the book was not in favor for its reader to try the methods by themself.

The book will soon hit the theater with Kevin Spacey and Lauren Fishburne. And to differentiate from the 2003 film Bringing Down the House (Queen Latifah, among others), the film would be titled '21' which of course mean the highest profitable number in the game of Blackjack.

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1 comment:

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